New York Times, Politico, others criticized for ‘offensive’ obituaries on deceased former GOP senator

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The New York Times, Associated Press, Politico and the Huffington Post all ran headlines critical of former Sen. James M. Inhofe when news of his death broke.

Prominent news organizations were quick to criticize the Oklahoma Republican’s stance on the environment in their obituaries when he died on Tuesday at the age of 89. Inhofe, Oklahoma’s longest serving senator from 1994 to 2023, led the Environment Committee and was known for his strong opinions on climate change and global warming.

“Longtime former Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, one of the most vehement climate change deniers to ever walk the halls of Congress, has died at age 89, the Tulsa World reported Tuesday,” HuffPost wrote in the first sentence of it’s article announcing his death. The article recalled how Inhofe famously brought a snowball onto the Senate floor in February 2015, which the outlet described as “an embarrassing attempt to prove that climate change is not real.”

The Associated Press‘ headline characterized Inhofe as a “defense hawk who called human-caused climate change a ‘hoax.’”


James M. Inhofe

Politico published its article with the initial headline, “Former Sen. Jim Inhode, who called climate change a ‘hoax,’ dead at 89,” which Sen. Ted Cruz’s, R-Texas, communications director Darin Miller called “highly offensive.”

After criticism, Politico changed it to “Former Sen. Jim Inhofe dead at 89.”

Billy Gribbin, communications director for Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said, “Politico, utterly classless, finding the worst way to mention the passing of the longest serving Senator from Oklahoma and a Senate institution.”

He then followed up, “Good, they changed it.”

A Politico spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “Headlines are regularly A/B tested and switched on a rotation, based on a number of factors, including engagement.”


The New York Times remembered his life with the headline: “James M. Inhofe, Senator Who Denied Climate Change, Dies at 89.” 

Radio host Erick Erickson compared the headline to the Gray Lady’s obituaries for Democratic Sens. “Edward M. Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Is Dead at 77,” and “Robert C. Byrd, a Pillar of the Senate, Dies at 92.” 

“One killed a lady. Another was a leader in the KKK. But then there’s that other guy…” Erickson wrote, referencing Kennedy, Byrd and Inhofe, respectively.

“James M. Inhofe, a five-term Republican senator from Oklahoma and, until President Donald J. Trump’s arrival in 2017, arguably Washington’s most prominent denier of the established science of human-generated climate change, died on Tuesday in Tulsa, Okla. He was 89,” the lead paragraph of the Times article read. 

Late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., questions Retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus while Sen. James Inhofe listens, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in September 2015.

Late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., questions Retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus while Sen. James Inhofe listens, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in September 2015. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The newspaper also described him as “the capital’s most vociferous denier of climate change, repeatedly calling it a hoax perpetrated by environmentalists, their liberal allies in the news media and ‘extremists who simply don’t like capitalism, free markets and freedom.’”

Inhofe passed away peacefully Tuesday morning surrounded by his wife Kay, his children and other family members, a former senior aide told Fox News. Inhofe reportedly suffered a stroke around the Fourth of July holiday.


Fox News Digital also reached out to The New York Times, the Associated Press and HuffPost for comment. 

Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.

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